The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Home truths and Gamang

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 19: With the Supreme Court turning the heat on “unauthorised occupants” of government property, former chief minister Giridhar Gamang said he was not at fault and had not been issued any eviction notice by the state authorities.

Gamang’s name had figured on a list of unauthorised occupants in the capital. The list had been attached to an affidavit the government had filed before the apex court.

The court has directed all illegal occupants to vacate government houses within a given timeframe.

Talking to reporters here today, the Congress MP from Koraput claimed he never occupied government property in an illegal manner. He showed a copy of the Supreme Court order issued on January 16, which said no further steps “are required to be taken” by the state in view of the fact that he had filed an affidavit saying he was ready to vacate the house in question within a week.

“I have already started shifting and will vacate the house within a week,” confirmed a “hurt” Gamang.

The veteran claimed he was allotted the government house in the Forest Park area in December 1999 as he was a former chief minister. “I have been in lawful occupation and have paid the usual rent of Rs 972 till this month,” he claimed. Official sources, however, said his rent arrears stood at nearly Rs 2 lakh.

Gamang said he received a letter from the government on June 11, 2004, which said he was not entitled to occupy the premises as he had ceased to be an MLA in 2000.

Aggrieved, the Congress leader wrote to Naveen Patnaik on June 18 pointing out that the house was allotted to him as he was a former chief minister. Patnaik replied in September assuring that he would look into the matter.

“Had he written to me that as a former chief minister I was not entitled to government quarters, I would have vacated the house the next day. But the chief minister has not decided on my representation till date,” said Gamang.

The estate officer later sent a notice to Gamang describing him as a “person in unauthorised occupation” of the house, following which he submitted a representation saying the matter was pending with the chief minister.

A writ petition challenging the government move is pending in the high court, he said, adding that he could consult lawyers to explore the possibility of filing a defamation case against the government.

A senior official said Gamang got the house as he was an MLA during the allotment and not because he was a former chief minister.

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